Recently released dashcam video shows a Palm Beach County, Florida, sheriff’s deputy gunning down an unarmed man.
The incident took place in September 2013, as 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens was riding his bike, and talking on his cell phone. The video shows Stephens from the dashcam of Officer Adams Lin, who is trailing Stephens in his police cruiser.
Stephens, apparently noticing that he is being followed, stops his bike in front of a parked car, and gets off. He steps out of the frame as he walks towards Lin. Seconds later, he appears again, running away from Lin. Shots are heard, and Stephens falls to the ground. Lin appears in the picture, gun drawn, and approaches Stephens.
A short time later, Lin can be heard telling another deputy that Stephens began backing away, as Lin told him to get on the ground. The other deputy says to Lin, “I got your back, man. I got your back. Hey, you hear me?”
Lin responds, “Yeah, I know.”
There are many issues surrounding the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.
The dashcam video was released as part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO). There are so many issues surrounding the department that there is even a website devoted to discussing them, PBSOTalk.com. The subtitle of that page is “Exposing the culture of corruption under Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.”
Bradshaw was quick to defend Lin on the day of the shooting. He told reporters:
Stop what you’re doing and comply with us. There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed.
The incident left Stephens paralyzed from the waist down. Stephens’ attorney, Jack Scarola, has filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Bradshaw and Deputy Lin. Scarola says that there is no evidence that Lin ever gave any command to Stephens to get on the ground. Scarola says that the internal affairs department ignored that evidence when they cleared Lin of any wrongdoing.
Since the release of the video, Sheriff Bradshaw has had nothing to say, noting that he will not comment on pending litigation. The PBSO is now the subject of an investigative report by WPTV and the Palm Beach Post, into how the sheriff’s office investigates officer involved shootings.
Here’s the undedited dashcam footage:
This is a report on the incident, from WPTV:
Featured image via screen capture from dashcam video